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A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 71

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finger. One flake came off in my hand. “ Hey!” said Hugh. “ Stop robbing the Clifford’s jewelry store.” This ore was far more spectacular than Goldfield’s, where the ore had to be subjected to intense heat before little blisters of pure gold appeared. At the time we were there, the Cliffords had sixty sacks of high- grade ore stacked in a little shed, each sack worth $ I, OOO. Ellendale proved to be a bubble of almost pure gold, which, through some freak of nature, had been thrust to the surface. However, the first shot of powder they put in to dig a shaft blew all the values away. It was not an entire loss, for they had the $ 60,000, but the mine and town site never materialized. Key Pittman was another one who had a rare stroke of luck. He came to Tonopah from Alaska, where he had not made a fortune, nor did he have a winning lease in Goldfield. But down on the flat in Tonopah district was a mine that became flooded with water and was forced into bankruptcy. As the company lawyer, Key was the principal creditor. Much to his regret, he had to accept the property in lieu of a fee. Figuring he was probably sending good money after bad, he decided to risk a few hundred dollars to estimate the worth of the fee. He installed pumps to lower the water level and put on three shifts of men to explore the old shaft. A few hundred feet deeper and, yes, they encountered a vein that made Key Pittman rich. The next step was the United States Senate. During his stay in the far North, Key had been the first district attorney of Dawson, Yukon Territory, and had tried to curb corruption among government officials. He was a tall, pale, slender sapling, a hard drinker, and when intoxicated belligerent to the point of endangering his own life as well as the lives of others. While he was in Dawson, he married Miss Mimosa Gates, who was something of a celebrity in her own right. She had made an impressive journey by dog team down the Yukon trail from Dawson to Juneau, an unbelievable feat if you look at the map. Her adventurous spirit captured the imagination of the soldier of fortune from Mississippi, but I was told by someone who had known her in Dawson that her friends thought it took more courage for her to marry Key Pittman than to face the Yukon trail. Be that as it may, to the very end of his life she was the only one who could control him when he went off the deep end. They were a glamorous pair. How fortune smiled at some and passed up others was a yarn that was always cropping up. Hugh told me an interesting story about the man who built the Golden Block, the little white building where Hugh had his office. Frank Golden was an itinerant jeweler who thumbed a ride into Tonopah with a freighter. He had a valise full of cufflinks, watches, and stick pins to sell to the leasers. He ran into a man who had a lease that didn’t seem likely to pan out. Golden offered him a watch in exchange for the lease, and the deal was

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A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 71
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